Seminci reclaims cinema as safe culture in a 65th edition marked by the pandemic

From left to right: showman Álex O’Dogherty with the representation from It Snows in Benidorm: Edgar Vittorino, Pedro Casablanc, Agustín Almodóvar, Sarita Choudhury and the film’s director Isabel Coixet

  • The Festival’s director  Javier Angulo claims in his traditional opening-gala  letter that Seminci is prepared to overcome the uncertainties of the pandemic with the best auteur cinema and top  health safety standards
  •  All the guests celebrated that Valladolid would be showing  its programme in the theatres  and not exclusively online,  and they encouraged the public to attend the 100% safe screenings

10/24/2020.- The opening gala of the Valladolid International Film Festival started this Friday by late  afternoon at Teatro Calderón: a little earlier than other years  due to the beginning of the overnight curfew and with a much smaller theatre audience as a result of seating restrictions, yet with the same enthusiasm for auteur and independent cinema that has always characterized  Valladolid’s Film Week. The presenter  of the 65th edition’s gala, showman Álex O’Dogherty, was the first to regret  how difficult it is to bring audiences to theatres in the midst of a pandemic, and even joked about the possibility of locking down attendees inside the theatre for a whole week: “until the Festival ends on the 31st“.

In turn, stage and screen performer Javier Gutiérrez, who acted as special host or festival “godfather”, fulfilled his  commission to read the letter written by the director of Seminci, Javier Angulo, who claimed that the festival “is prepared to withstand the complications and uncertainties of this crazy pandemic with a distinct  formula: the best auteur cinema and top health safety standards “.  Indeed, over the next eight days Seminci audiences  will be able to enjoy a total of 150 titles, including feature films and shorts, which will be available in physical venues and,  in some sections, also online through  the Filmin platform.

Other actors who travelled  to Valladolid this Friday were Brays Efe and Greta Fernández, who presented the Spike of Honor to National Film awardee Isabel Coixet. “And about time too!” said the Catalan director while laughing before recalling that she has not only participated in Seminci with several of her films, but on many other occasions as a jury, delivering master classes or appearing in several  galas.

Coixet, who claimed  that cinema never dies despite all kinds of trouble, also praised the Valladolid Festival for the safety measures implemented against  Covid-19 an

d encouraged the public to come to the film theatres. “Down with the couch and long live  cinema!” she exclaimed  on the stage with her newly collected prize in her  hand.

The Catalan director is also the author of It Snows in Benidorm , this year’s inaugural film, screening out of competition. The film’s commercial release is scheduled for 13 November. Part of the movie’s team, including  Sarita Choudhury, Edgar Vittorino, Pedro Casablanc and Agustín Almodóvar, also travelled to Valladolid in order to accompany Coixet. “This is a very shameless and original film, and now in these pandemic days, it even looks dystopian:  it shows what life was like at the beginning of the year!” said producer Agustín Almodóvar.

Eva Marciel, who co-hosted  the gala with O’Dogherty, also mentioned the importance of Seminci showing films in these troubled times, noting that this has not happened in other film festivals which were eventually cancelled or decided to stream online the whole of their programme.

Marciel was in charge of  presenting the titles that participate this year in the Official Selection,  16 feature films and 9 shorts. Next the representation of the film Puppy Love, which will screened out of competition tomorrow, appeared on the stage of Teatro Calderón . They were followed by the members of the International Jury, Peter Beale, Alicia Luna, Antonio Pérez, Stéphane Sorlat and Emma Suárez, who shared their excitement over viewing the festival’s official selection in this inevitably unusual edition. “We look forward to seeing great movies,” said British producer Peter Beale, who will be chairing  the jury this year.

Since the  65th edition won’t be having a special guest country as in previous years,  Seminci decided to commemorate instead the 65th anniversary of British Free Cinema with a retrospective that may be viewed on Filmin.

The filmmaker Enrique Gabriel and the actress Irene Visedo then presented the titles making up the  other two competitive  sections  in the Valladolid Festival: Meeting Point, dedicated to new authors and unusual cinematic works, and Time of History, the section that takes care of the documentary genre.

As is customary at Seminci, there was also a remembrance of prominent figures from the film world who passed away in the last twelve months: José Luis Cuerda, Asunción Balaguer, Lucía Bosé, Kirk Douglas, Marion Hänsel, Ian Holm, Anna Karina, Ennio Morricone, Rosa María Sardá and Goran Paskaljevic, to whom the Festival will be dedicating a special tribute this year.

In his role as master of ceremonies, Álex O’Dogherty brought the gala to a close  by sending a positive message and encouraging audiences  to go to the cinemas, since “no matter how tough things get, they can only improve now.”

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